Spiritual promotion

We’re focusing on the last of the Yamas – the Don’t or abstinences in yoga practice. This is Aparigraha, non-greed. The ancient yogis believed that moving to Spirit World was promotion. They believed in making all conditions favourable for a successful and spiritual passing. In our Western world, there’s a tendency to cling on to life at all costs. Even if that life is not particularly rewarding or beneficial. This could be considered to be greed – wanting more and more time on Earth, when perhaps it could be viewed as an opportunity to make room for others.

Aparigraha is a fascinating study with many different facets. it reminds us that we’re all here on a spiritual path; we’re here to serve others; we’re here to serve the universe as a whole.

Let’s begin this week’s practise with Malla Kriya. Whooshing the breath away as we move into a forward bend gets rid of excess carbon dioxide.

On to the tree of life breath, and we’ll add the pranayama technique of ujjayi. This aids concentration as we hear the sound of the breath in the throat rather than in the nostrils.

Now we come to the glorious Salutation to the Sun. Let’s try three rounds! This wonderful sequence begins with a backward bend and then a forward bend. We’ll progress that with some static forward and backward bends, and then some twists.

Now let’s meet Salutation to the Moon. We’ll do three rounds here, too.

Returning to the mat through the squat, we’ll balance here for a moment before accepting our challenge. Sit down softly with control. Then let’s balance in the cosmic egg.

Meditation features a dynamic mudra. We’re progressing from last week’s work with SAA, TAA, NAA and MAA. Here we’ll extend the fingers on the inhalation, and touch each finger to the thumb on the exhalation. We’re adding another dimension, though. First round it’s touching the finger-tip to the thumb – silent SAA, we touch index finger to thumb; silent TAA, it’s middle finger to thumb; silent NAA, it’s ring finger to thumb; silent MAA, it’s little finger to thumb. Second round, we use fingernail. Third round, we use whole finger while pressing fingertip into the palm. This meditation takes a goodly amount of concentration!

Relaxation features the sounds of SO and HAM: I am that I am. This is the unconscious mantra of the breath repeated on average 21, 600 times per day. SO represents the cosmic consciousness and HAM represents the individual consciousness.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti


Understanding energy

We’ve been studying the three main energy channels and the flow of kundalini. The mantra used by those who practise kundalinin yoga is, ‘OM Namo, Guru Dev Namo’. It can be translated as, ‘I call on the infinite creative consciousness.I call on the divine teacher within and without.’
We’ll begin this week with kapalabhati. This is a kriya and a pranayama technique. It’s known as the ‘skull-shining breath’.
From seated we’ll go into a deep forward bend, and then we’ll work with all the seated twists. Let’s return to the deep forward bend. And now we meet a balance in the form of the cosmic egg.
Our challenge pose at the minute is downward-facing dog. Let’s start in cat and then use the energy to move up into dog. While there we’ll play a little. We’ll bend one knee while stretching the back of the other leg, we’ll shake each leg in turn, we’ll stretch one leg out as long as possible. Resting in the counterpose gives us time for pause, and then we’ll resume a solid dog pose. From there we’ll stand.
Let’s try a deep forward bend in standing position, and follow that with a backward bend and twists.
Coming back to the mat through squat, we’ll move into cool-downs. Our meditation this week is a visualisation. Relaxation will feature the sound of ‘So’ on the in-breath and ‘Ham’ on the out-breath.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Raja Yoga

As we continue our journey through the classical paths of yoga, this week we’ll be looking at Raja Yoga. Raja means royal or king, and this is the yoga of meditation. Our previous subject, Hatha Yoga, has led us here through self-awareness and a growing knowledge of our inner being.

Let’s begin by looking at the world from a different angle. We’ll practise shoulderstand, plough, fish and the bridges. After a gentle twist movement, we’ll work with supine side-stretches. Coming up through the boat, we’ll move on to the camel. Those with knee problems will be given an alternative.

All standing for the mountain pose! This is the posture that we’re repeating each week this half-term. We’ll continue into the mountain sequence, with the arms shoulder width apart

Now let’s attempt the tree balance. Can we open the arms wide like branches?

Back to the mat through the squat and, after the cool-downs, we’ll meditate on SO-HAM. We ‘think’ the sound ‘So’ on the in-breath, and the sound ‘Ham’ on the out-breath. These two sounds mean ‘I am that I am’. Raja yoga leads us to a deep understanding of ourselves.

Oh, do let’s have some sunshine for our relaxation! We’ll work with Surya Kriya and recharge our batteries.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Focussing on the Crown Chakra 29/2/2016

This time, my lovely weekly students, we are focussing on the Crown Chakra.

We will begin with a short relaxation, a reading on mindfulness and the stretches and warm-ups.

The Pranayama exercise is Kapalabhati, the skull- shining breath.

We will move into work with the Hare Pose, Shashasana. After resting in the Child Pose, Balasana, we’ll move on to pose of devotion, Dharmikasana.

Since the Downward Facing Dog is our challenge pose of this half-term, we will continue with the sequence Swan – Cat – Dog. We’ll spend some time on Dog alone.

All the way through this class, we are focussing on the Crown Chakra. Now, we will meet the Half-Headstand, and for those who are fit and eager I will offer a way of doing the Headstand, Sirsasana, safely on two chairs.

The meditation is ‘So’ on the in-breath, ‘Ham’ on the out-breath.

The relaxation practice is working with the 22 body parts, Marmanasthanam Kriya.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Mudras, mantras and the breath

Whilst making all conditions favourable for meditation to occur, it is useful to explore Hasta Mudras (hand positions). A mudra is a seal or gesture, which brings about a change in consciousness. It has an effect on the physical, psychological and energy levels. Two popular mudras are Chin mudra, where we squeeze together the cushions of the index finger and the thumb, while the other three fingers are long, straight and together, and Dhyana mudra, where the hands are cupped, left hand on top, thumbs are lightly touching and the hands are placed comfortably in the lap.

Mantras are a great aid to lead you into meditation, as is focussing on the breath. Simply watching the breath at the nostrils – noticing the cool air as you breathe in and the warmer air as you breathe out, is wonderfully calming. You can combine mantra and breath work with SO-HAM. This is the eternal mantra. We make the sound of SO as we breathe in and the sound of HAM as we breathe out. So Ham means ‘I am that I am’. This mantra we are using 24/7!